Making iced coffee at home with a French Press is easier than you think.
Whether you already love your French Press and want to try making iced coffee or if you’re just looking for a quick way to make a great batch of iced coffee at home, this guide is all you need.
What is a French Press? A French Press, or a cafetiere, is a manual coffee-making device.
It consists of a cylindrical pot with a plunger and mesh filter.
The first French Press was actually patented in Italy in 1929 but became known as a French item because it grew in popularity when it was reintroduced in 1958 under a famous French brand.
All that is needed to follow the French Press method is ground coffee beans and hot water, which are added to the French Press.
After steeping for the desired amount of time, you then push down the plunger to filter the grounds out of the coffee, leaving only a clean cup of brew.
French Press is a form of immersion brewing — this means that coffee grounds are immersed directly in water for a period of time.
You can experiment with various flavors and strengths by adjusting coffee bean type, grind size, and length of brew time.
For example, coffee that’s ground into smaller granules will expose a larger surface area and therefore provides a faster extraction period.
This means that you may have a more flavorful coffee, but if not done carefully, it can easily become bitter-tasting.
The general consensus is that medium-coarse coffee grounds are the best for French Press.
However, this is all a matter of preference, and a French Press lets you explore all your options!
Why Use a French Press to Make Coffee?
French Press coffee is considered better than traditional coffee made at home in a coffee maker because it’s very quick to make but full of flavor, richness, and boldness.
Most avid coffee enthusiasts prefer a French Press coffee over regular drip coffee or single serve makers.
While the drip method utilizes a coffee filter for ease of use and cleaning, it also means that oils and flavors can be trapped and never make it to the cup.
This will alter the flavor and aroma of the coffee noticeably.
(Speaking of cleaning — here’s how to clean a coffee maker with vinegar.)
French Presses are immersion coffee makers, not drip coffee makers, and they allow coffee grounds to steep in hot water for an extended period of time, pulling their best attributes into your coffee.
The only thing that is filtered out is the grounds.
This method requires very little skill and is easy to learn, making it a great way for coffee lovers who are still beginners to switch up their regular coffee.
It's arguably the easiest way to make quality coffee at home, without a whole bunch of special equipment or experience working at your local coffee shop.
You pour, steep, and press — that’s it! It’s simple, convenient, and doesn’t add extra time to your morning routine, so it’s perfect for coffee on the go.
You can also determine the strength of your coffee by perfecting how long you let it steep.
Many people really appreciate that a French Press gives them some level of control over their drink.
French Presses are environmentally friendly, as well.
With no paper filters or plastic containers that are discarded, there is less waste.
That makes it a more sustainable choice for eco-conscious coffee consumers.
FAQ: Can you put milk in a coffee maker? You can, and you can even froth milk in a French Press, just be sure you do it properly using our guide.
How Do You Make French Press Iced Coffee?
French Press coffee is typically known for producing the perfect hot cup of coffee, but good news — there's an easy way it can be used for iced coffee as well!
There are two main ways to make iced coffee using your French Press: cold brew or brewed coffee.
Most coffee shops use cold brew for iced coffee because it’s more convenient, but traditional iced coffee is made with hot brewed coffee.
Cold brew iced coffee:
- The good: This makes a larger amount of prepared coffee that will last longer than single serve methods. The flavor is excellent and smooth, often more rich than traditional coffee.
- The bad: You have to wait 24 hours, so you need to prepare it in advance.
Brewed iced coffee:
- The good: You can make French Press iced coffee in any strength you desire, then pour it over ice. It’s delicious and takes only 10 minutes to make!
- The bad: It makes only 2 servings at once, so it’s not ideal for people looking to make a large amount at a time.
You may wonder what type of coffee you should use.
Iced coffee has a reputation for being slightly bitter, so using a dark roast coffee bean is what most consumers expect when making or ordering one.
It’s just a matter of personal preference, so experiment.
What Do You Need to Make French Press Iced Coffee?
The only appliance you really need to make French Press iced coffee is… a French Press.
We do, however, have a list of optional tools that you may want to invest in if you plan to use your French Press regularly.
- Coffee grinder: You can use any type of grinder to achieve a delicious ground coffee that will taste great in your French Press. Medium grind is recommended for the French Press, but remember, this comes down to personal preference.
- Filtered water: While not everyone will go to this level for a cup of coffee, we assure you that filtered water will give you the cleanest and most true flavor profile. This can be achieved by using a pitcher filtration system, or one that is installed in your kitchen sink.
- Food scale: To be more precise with your coffee creations, you can weigh your ingredients. Digital food scales give you exact measurements that are not subject to the errors of the human eye. You can also just stick with using 1 cup of grounds per 4 cups of water.
- Electric kettle: This method will accurately and precisely measure the temperature of your water.
Again, these are optional items that not everyone will wish to invest in, and that’s okay!
You can still make a really great cup of coffee with store-bought grounds using just a measuring cup and a French Press.
This could be the beginning of your journey to making high-quality coffee yourself!
After all, it can be a lot of fun to play around, perfecting your own best iced coffee recipe without relying on expensive or fancy equipment.
For many people, it's also a chance to subtly engage your sweet tooth by adding syrups to your favorite French Press recipe, save money on your caffeine intake, or indulge the best thing about your mornings.
Two Methods for Making French Press Iced Coffee
Here’s how to use the brewed hot coffee method to make iced coffee:
You will make double strength French Press coffee for this recipe, as it will be diluted before serving. Therefore, this method uses half the amount of water.
- Grind the coffee. If you have already ground your coffee, you will measure out about 1 cup.
- Heat the water. You want to bring the water to hot but not boiling, so aim for around 200°F. If you don’t have an electric kettle to measure the temperature, you can boil water in a kettle or pan on the stovetop and let it sit for 2 minutes to decrease in temperature. 3
- Add coffee grounds. Place your coffee grounds at the bottom of the French Press.
- Allow coffee to “bloom.” Add water to the height of the coffee and stir with a spoon. Set a timer for 1 minute. This step enhances the flavor of your coffee.
- Add more water. Fill the French Press to the top, just below the spout, and stir. Set a timer for 4 minutes.
- Plunge your coffee. Place the lid on the French Press, and, well, press!
- Serve. Fill two tall glasses or heat-safe cups with ice. Pour the hot coffee over the ice. You should expect about half of the ice to melt. Add more if necessary.
Here’s how to make cold brew in a French Press:
Cold brew iced coffee is very intuitive, even in a French Press. Similar to the hot brewed method, you will alter the concentration of your coffee by using a smaller amount of water per serving.
This means you will use 2 cups of coffee grounds and 3 ½ cups of water.
- Add the coffee grounds and water to the French Press and stir with a spoon. Next, cover the pitcher with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for 24 hours for best results.
- After 24 hours, plunge the coffee and strain. Pour the cold brew concentrate into a large glass jar or pitcher. 3. When serving, dilute your concentrated cold brew mixture at a 1:1 ratio. This means you will mix ½ cup cold brew coffee with ½ cup water (for black iced coffee) or ½ cup milk or milk substitute.
Note: If serving with ice, consider reducing your water or milk to ¼ cup, as the ice will melt over time and leave you with watery coffee if you’re not careful.
What to Add to French Press Iced Coffee
If you’re looking to soften and sweeten your fresh cup of French Press iced coffee, here are our top suggestions:
- 2% milk: Lower in fat than creamers or whole milk, 2% milk provides richness and softness to your cup.
- Oat milk: A great dairy alternative, oat milk is creamy and full of flavor. It tends to perform better in coffee than similar dairy-free milks, such as almond or cashew, and has a neutral flavor.
- Syrup: Flavored gourmet syrups, simple syrup, maple syrup… think outside the box when it comes to sweetening your coffee.
- Traditional sweeteners: White or brown sugar, honey, agave nectar, or any of your favorite sweeteners can give your coffee a softer edge.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the process!
This can be a meditative part of your day, whether you're enjoying cold-brew coffee in the warmer months of the year (or, honestly, year-round!) or just looking for a good reason to be a few minutes late to work.
Need more iced coffee in your life? Try making this iced coffee cocktail recipe.
Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.French Press, Coffee, Drinks, How To Guides